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    UK: Russian Mercenary Chief’s Likely Death Could Destabilize His Private Army

    UK: Russian Mercenary Chief's Likely Death Could Destabilize His Private Army

    Britain's defense ministry said Friday that the presumed death of Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin in a plane crash could destabilize the Wagner Group, whose brutal fighters were feared in , and and conducted a brief but shocking mutiny in Russia.

    Prigozhin, who was listed among those on board, was eulogized Thursday by Russian President Vladimir Putin, even as suspicions grew that Putin was behind a Wednesday crash that many saw as an assassination.

    Russian authorities have not yet confirmed Prigozhin's death.

    The British ministry wrote that “It is highly likely that he is indeed dead.” However, it noted that “he is known to exercise exceptional security measures.”

    “The demise of Prigozhin almost certainly would have a deeply destabilizing effect on the Wagner Group. His personal attributes of hyperactivity, exceptional audacity, a drive for results and extreme brutality permeated Wagner and are unlikely to be matched by any successor,” the ministry wrote in a statement.

    Wagner mercenaries were key elements of Russia's forces in its war in Ukraine, particularly in the monthslong fight to take the of Bakhmut, the conflict's most grueling battle. Wagner fighters also have played a central role projecting Russian influence in global trouble spots, first in Africa and then in Syria.

    A preliminary U.S. intelligence assessment concluded that the plane was downed by…

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